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DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 

By George W. Ellis K.C., F.R.G.S., recently Secretary of 
the American Legation in Monrovia 

The daring adventures and the astonishing discoveries, 
disclosed by European exploration during the last quarter 
of the nineteenth century, precipitated a world-wide move- 
ment toward Africa and its races, a movement which at 
times seems destined to modify if not to affect seriously 
the character and quality of Western civilization. 

The wealth and wonder of Africa were so alluring that 
within the brief space of a few years we witnessed the extra- 
ordinary phenomenon of a great continent, eagerly divided 
up into spheres of trade and political influence, and the 
future of its inhabitants consigned to the indefinite dominion 
of colony-holding powers. 

But in the providence of events, as some believe, Liberia 
and Abyssinia, have been preserved to this day, through 
darkness and through difficulties, with their independence 
intact and their sovereignty unimpaired. 

Libeeian Republic: Population and Tebritory 

Of American origin, the Republic of Liberia is a Negro 
state situated on the west coast of Africa. Beginning as an 
American colony in 1821, it declared its independence in 
1847. At its declaration of independence it adopted a con- 
stitution and modeled its political, social, and religious 
institutions after those of the United States. On a hitherto 
barbarous coast for nearly three quarters of a century, under 
the most trying circumstances and against the prejudice 
and rivalry of powerful European states, a small band of 
American Negroes has struggled to develop themselves and 
to establish and to perpetuate in Liberia the democratic 



256 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

institutions of the American people, as an example and in- 
spiration to the millions of the African black belt, who 
are yet to actualize and achieve their highest and best self. 

(1) Population 

Beginning with less than one-hundred emigrants eighty- 
nine years ago, those civilized Liberians now engaged in 
this important work approximately are from 60,000 to 75,- 
000 and are distributed along the coast in seaport towns 
from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas and in settlements up the 
Saint Paul, Cavalla, and other Liberian rivers. 

In addition there are in Liberia more than 2,000,000 
aboriginals, some fourteen or fifteen tribes, living in accord 
with their native tribal institutions, except where modified 
by Liberian laws, and residing along the coast and throughout 
the Liberian hinterlands. 

Among them are numerous and powerful tribes, exhibit- 
ing leaders of remarkable intelligence, possessing wise men 
of astonishing scholarship, and having common men of 
wonderful aptitude and military prowess. A collection of 
their industrial products discloses a high order of artistic 
skill and a wide range of initiation in articles employed in 
their industries, decoration, and dress. 

The visitor soon distinguishes the aggressive Grebo from 
the simple and hard-working Kpwesi, the sea-faring Kru 
and Basa from the militant Gola and Mendi, and notes with 
surprise the dignity, bearing, and manners of the scholarly 
Vai and Mandingo, the latter being so widely and favorably 
known as the gentlemen of West Africa. 

(2) Territory 

With a heavy forest and its territory decreased to about 
50,000 square miles, Liberia has the highest mountains in 
West Africa, and is remarkably free from the fever-laden 
mangrove swamps and marshy lagoons which characterize 
the Ivory and Slave coasts, and is generally regarded as the 
most healthful and "the Garden Spot of West Africa." 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 257 

It is significant that Liberian territory, generally hilly 
and increasing in elevation interiorward to the grassy lands 
of the Mandingan plateau, with the exception of 350 miles 
of sea frontage, is entirely surrounded by the possessions of 
strong European powers. In the colony of Sierra Leone Great 
Britain is on the west, and including now the Ivory Coast 
French West African possessions are on the north and east. 

Liberia's proximity to British and French possessions 
makes contact and communication frequent and easy, and 
has given rise to some very grave questions in their inter- 
national intercourse. 

Alarming Nature of the Situation 

Growing out of some of these questions, Liberia has lost 
section after section of her valuable lands; time and again 
the Liberian government has been humiliated before its 
overwhelming aboriginal population; but at last the Liberian 
people have been so alarmed and aroused by what seemed 
to them unjustifiable international interferences, false and 
studied accusations and charges against their government, 
deliberate and unwarranted threats against their indepen- 
dence, and such overt preparations and acts as would make 
sure the dismemberment of their territory and the sub- 
version of their sovereignty, that there has existed for some 
time such an abnormal and complex situation of affairs 
in Liberia as to make it now the scene of important inter- 
national attention and of considerable consideration and 
interest to the American government and people. 

There have been other important and critical periods in 
Liberian history; and while the present situation differs from 
all the rest, in the number, strength, and violent activity of 
its factors and the increased complexity of public affairs, 
brought about by the concurrent action of powerful rival 
and conflicting forces; yet, it is the natural sequence of 
what has gone before in a series of Liberian misfortunes 
which have their beginning in the foundation of the state. 



258 george w. ellis 

Liberia's Part in Abolition of African Slave Trade 

Liberia was planted in West Africa as an asylum for the 
American Negro, where he might be free from the cruelties 
and outrages of American bondage. It was therefore natural 
and right for the Liberian colony to join hands with the 
powers to blot out the African slave trade, which still secretly 
flourished and lingered on the Liberian coast long after the 
British West Indies and the United States had been removed 
from the slave markets of the world. 

Driven from the Pongo Regions northwest of Sierra 
Leone, Pedro Blanco settled in the Gallinhas territory north- 
west of the Liberian frontier, and established elaborate 
headquarters for his mammoth slave-trading operations in 
West Africa, with slave-trading substations at Cape Mount, 
Saint Paul River, Basa, and at other points of the Liberian 
coast, employing numerous police, watchers, spies, and 
servants. 

To obtain jurisdiction the colony of Liberia began to 
purchase from the lords of the soil as early as 1824 the lands 
of the Saint Paul Basin and the Grain Coast from the Mafa 
River on the west to the Grand Sesters River on the east. 
So that by 1845, twenty-four years after the establishment of 
the colony, Liberia with the aid of Great Britain had destroyed 
throughout these regions the baneful traffic in slaves and the 
slave barracoons, and had driven the slave-trading leaders 
from the Liberian coast. 

First Difficulty with Great Britain 

The traders in slaves soon were followed by British sub- 
jects engaged in the legitimate trade of palm oil and other 
Liberian products. These traders were advised by the 
Sierra Leone government that the colony of Liberia had no 
right to exercise powers of sovereignty, such as collecting 
duties and harbor dues, and so informed Liberia in the Dring 
case; and later the British government informed the govern- 
ment of the United States, through our ambassador at 
London, Mr. Everett, that, 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 259 

Her majesty's naval commanders would afford efficient protec- 
tion to British trade against improper assumption of power on 
the part of the Liberian authorities. 1 

So when the Liberian colony attempted in 1845 to enforce 
its revenue laws against Captain Davidson, a British sub- 
ject, who openly defied them, the British government sent 
an English gunboat into Grand Basa harbor and seized a 
Liberian vessel, as compensation for a British ship, seized 
by Liberian authorities, and belonging to Davidson, because 
he had refused to pay harbor dues. 

The American government intervened, but when it ascer- 
tained the position of Great Britain, it disclosed the timidity 
of its own attitude by stating that it was not 

presuming to settle differences arising between Liberian and 
British subjects, the Liberians being responsible for their own 

acts. 2 

Unable to obtain the necessary protection from the 
United States government, or to abandon the enforcement 
of its revenue laws, the only support of its civil administra- 
tion, Liberia was forced to try to meet the situation in some 
way, and so long before it was prepared it was compelled 
by the attitude of Great Britain to declare its independence. 

Liberian Northwest Territory Difficulty 

The slave trade still flourished in the territory generally 
known as the Gallinhas territory, between Liberia and the 
colony of Sierra Leone, in 1847. 

Soon after the declaration of Liberian independence Presi- 
dent Roberts went to Europe to secure for Liberia inter- 
national recognition among the powers. While in England 
a British philanthropist, Lord Ashley, arranged to raise 
for President Roberts £2000 to purchase the Gallinhas 
territory, in order to suppress the slave traffic in this region. 
President Roberts returned to Liberia and by 1856 had 
secured by purchase from the native owners the title and 

'Lord Aberdeen to Mr. Everett. 
2 Mr. Everett to Lord Aberdeen. 



260 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

deeds to all the Gallinhas territory from the Mafa River to 
the Sherbro Island, and had exterminated the trade in 
slaves in this section. 

To this territorial acquisition of Liberia no objection was 
made at the time by the government of Great Britain, 
although President Roberts in another trip to Europe in 
1852 duly informed the British government of his having 
completed the extension of Liberian sovereignty over the 
Gallinhas territory as far as Sierra Leone. 

Following the destruction of the slave trade there sprung 
up in this section a flourishing trade in palm oil, and numer- 
ous British merchants from Sierra Leone settled on the 
upper Liberian coast, in the Gallinhas territory. 

It was the fashion of these British traders to settle at points 
remote from civilized Liberian settlements where they 
might the more easily escape the payment of customs duties 
to the Liberian government. 

John M. Harris, a British merchant, stationed himself 
in this region between the Sulima and Mano rivers. He 
not only refused to acknowledge and obey the customs regu- 
lations, but in every respect openly defied the authority of 
the Liberian government. He was so bold in his infringe- 
ment of the customs laws that the Liberian government 
felt it absolutely necessary to take some action against him 
to prevent the demoralization of its customs administration. 

So in 1860 the Liberian government sent a coastguard 
and captured two schooners belonging to Harris, between 
Cape Mount and Mano Point, while they were engaged in 
the contravention of Liberian revenue laws. The Sierra 
Leone government sent the Torch, a British gunboat, to 
Monrovia and took suddenly from the Liberian govern- 
ment by force the two offending Harris schooners. 

Then for the first time Great Britian began to dispute 
Liberia's title to any portion of the Gallinhas territory. 
It was while President Benson was in England on this 
question, in 1862, that Earl Russel first informed him that 
the British government recognized the political rights of 
Liberia only to extend east of Turner's Peninsula to the 
River San Pedro. 



DYNAMIC FACTOBS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 261 

Urged on by the Sierra Leone government and supported 
by the British government, Harris continued to defy the 
Liberian authorities and went so far as to ally himself with 
native chiefs and sent a war upon the Vais in the vicinity 
of Grand Cape Mount. The Liberian government at 
different times sent expeditions in defense. In one of them 
the Gallinhas attack was repelled and some of the Harris 
forces, smarting under defeat, returned and destroyed some 
of the Harris factories. The British government demanded 
an indemnity of £8878.9.3 for the Harris losses, and extended 
her disputation to all the territory from Sherbro Island to 
Cape Mount. 

Liberia appealed to the United States and the questions 
were discussed without conclusion for nearly twenty years, 
in two commissions and in the diplomatic correspondence 
of Liberia, Great Britain, and the United States, during 
which British claims were run up to £17,899.5.3. 

Great Britain promised to submit this boundary question 
to the arbitration of the United States, but when the time 
arrived at the meeting of one of the commissions at Sierra 
Leone she firmly declined to do so. 

A careful study of the facts in this question warrants the 
conclusion that these British subjects were encouraged and 
sustained by the Sierra Leone government to violate Liberian 
customs laws and to openly defy Liberian authority in order 
to keep up trouble and to lay the foundation for just such 
a British demand as was presented in "the Harris and 
Manna River Claims," as a kind of show of justification 
for taking Liberian territory. And when Great Britain was 
ready to take the territory she abandoned the British 
claims. 

Finally in 1882, over the warmest diplomatic advocacy 
of Liberian rights by the United States, Great Britain sent 
Sir Arthur Havelock, governor of Sierra Leone and consul 
to Liberia, armed with four gunboats, to Monrovia and 
secured under duress from the Liberian president a treaty 
giving up all Liberian rights to the Gallinhas territory from 
Sherbro Island to the Mafa River, in exchange for the sum 
of £4750 and the abandonment of British claims. 



262 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

Later through the influence of the United States this 
boundary was fixed in the Anglo-Liberian treaty of 1885 
at the Mano River, and thus a contest for Liberian territory 
was temporarily closed while a larger one was opened, which, 
with comparative success, has continued to the present day. 

Liberian Boundary Difficulties with France 

The national and international effect of this forcible annex- 
ation of Liberian northwest territory by Great Britain was 
not only distressing but far-reaching. Liberia was deeply 
wounded and permanently injured. The hope of effective 
protection from the United States, when in the right, so 
widely entertained by the Liberian people, was most seriously 
impaired and the spirit which had sustained the great work of 
Liberian civilization was most vitally depressed. European 
powers, and especially France, were now impressed that the 
United States would hardly do more for Liberia than use 
her diplomatic good offices. And although French senti- 
ment condemned the attitude of Great Britain in the matter 
of the Anglo-Liberian boundary, France began to think 
how she might follow British example. 

For centuries France and England had been rivals. 
France entered the crusade for the abolition of the slave 
trade in West Africa to share with Great Britain any advan- 
tages to be obtained. She now turned her attention to the 
Liberian situation. 

The Maryland State Colonization Society, with funds 
raised in the United States, purchased the title to the lands 
of the Ivory Coast east of Cape Palmas as far as the San 
Pedro River in 1846. These lands were transferred to the 
State of Maryland in Liberia in 1854, and to Liberia in 1857; 
and aside from receiving no protest from any of the powers 
at the time, this territory was in the undisputed possession 
of Liberia for nearly forty years. 

In addition to making claims to Cape Mount, Grand Basa, 
Great and Little Butu, and Garrawe, points on the main 
Liberian coast, France claimed in 1891 the Ivory Coast, 
based on title deeds obtained by French Naval commanders, 



DYNAMIC FACTOES IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 263 

who visited the Liberian coast about 1890. Upon the 
French announcement of the acquisition of the Ivory Coast 
to the Powers, Great Britain and the United States formally 
objected and Liberia appointed Baron de Stein, a Belgian 
subject, as her representative at Paris to adjust this boundary 
dispute. 

During the Paris negotiations France proposed to waive 
her other claims on the Liberian coast and give 25,000 
francs in addition if Liberia would relinquish her claim to 
the territory east of the Cavalla River. Discouraged by 
the experience of the northwest boundary dispute, Baron 
de Stein was instructed by the Liberian executive govern- 
ment to sign a treaty to this effect. Upon interest taken 
by the United States in the controversy, the Liberian sen- 
ate hesitated to ratify this treaty of 1892, when under the 
influence of information of French advances near Cape 
Palmas and telegrams from Paris announcing French 
threats, the Liberian government felt it useless to contend 
further and surrendered to France its Ivory Coast on the east. 

Present Boundary Problem with Great Britain 

In 1903 the Anglo-Liberian boundary was delimited. 
The line threw the Kaure-Lahun Section to the republic 
of Liberia, where the Liberian flag was raised without 
protest or opposition. At the time of the delimitation the 
town of Kaure-Lahun was occupied by a detachment from 
the Sierra Leone frontier force, and although that town was 
admitted to belong to Liberia, the British force did not 
evacuate it. 

In 1904 the British government asked permission for the 
further advance of British troops into Liberian territory to 
suppress a reported native war between Fabunda of Kaure- 
Lahun and Kafura of the Gissi Country, which war was 
said to threaten British interest by raids into British terri- 
tory. The permission was granted and Kafura was defeated 
and driven from his country. Improving the advantage 
of this occasion the British later extended their occupation 
to the whole of what is now called the Kaure-Lahun Section 
and evinces no disposition to ever give it up. 



264 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

Already Fabunda had been taken under the protection 
of the British government. In this process of expansion, 
assisted by the Sierra Leone frontier force, Fabunda began 
and waged a cruel campaign against native chiefs in this 
section who would not throw off their allegiance to the Liberian 
republic. Liberian officers from near this section reported the 
burning of towns, the slaughter of men, and the capture and 
carrying off of women and children. 

Although the Liberian government has sent two frontier 
forces to police this section, Great Britain still refuses to 
withdraw from Liberian territory on the plea that Liberia 
has not shown her ability to effectively control this terri- 
tory, for whose occupation and government Sierra Leone 
is said to have spent large sums of money. Liberian cus- 
toms officials were frightened by the Sierra Leone frontier 
force and compelled to withdraw from the line, a military 
zone was established, and a new boundary indicated, beyond 
which the Liberian government is not permitted to exercise 
administrative jurisdiction. 

The Kaure-Lahun zone is a rich and valuable section, 
lying in the gateway to the Sierra Leone Railway and through 
which much trade is diverted from Liberian hinterlands 
before it reaches the Liberian coast. Through interior 
supervision Liberia is now seeking to increase her own 
foreign exportations by getting control of her own great 
hinterland trade, most of which now goes to Sierra Leone 
on the west and French possessions on the east; and it would 
be another great misfortune to the Liberian republic if from 
her possession Great Britain should ultimately be permitted 
to take, under any pretext whatever, another valuable sec- 
tion of Liberian territory. 

For the above and other reasons, since the occupation of 
Kaure-Lahun, Great Britain has offered Liberia £6000 for 
this section, or to exchange for it the Moro Territory, a de- 
populated strip on the west bank of the Mano River. The 
Liberian government has promptly refused to part with 
the Kaure-Lahun Territory, either by exchange or by sale. 



dynamic factoks in the liberian situation 265 

Present Boundary Problem with France 

Although the treaty of 1892 defined the Franco-Liberian 
boundary, the government of France took no steps to 
delimit it. In the meantime, aroused by Great Britain's 
occupation of Kaure-Lahun, the French government began 
to make advances into Liberian hinterlands, so far inside 
the boundary as indicated in the Franco-Liberian treaty of 
1892, that the Liberian government became very uneasy 
and exhibited great anxiety to have the Franco-Liberian 
boundary delimited in accord with the treaty of 1892. For 
this purpose a Liberian commission was hurried to France 
in 1904, but French claims were so large that no understand- 
ing could be reached. France continued to press her en- 
croachments upon Liberian territory, claiming nearly half 
of the hinterlands of the three Liberian countries: Basa, 
Sino, and Maryland. In 1905 Liberia sent a special envoy 
to Paris in an another vain endeavor to have the Franco- 
Liberian boundary delimited. 

Finally when the French had secured, contrary to the 
terms of the treaty of 1892, the occupation of most valuable 
Liberian hinterlands, Great Britain informed Liberia that un- 
less French advances were checked on the north the British 
government on behalf of British interest on the west would 
proceed to occupy more Liberian territory contiguous to 
Sierra Leone. The president of Liberia was required to 
visit both London and Paris, and to prevent further encroach- 
ments on all sides, the Franco-Liberian treaty of 1907 was 
negotiated, in which France exacted from Liberia the title 
to the Liberian territories which she had forcibly occupied. 

And now so soon France seeks to obtain by a strained 
construction of the treaty of 1907 and to force it in the delimi- 
tation, a large section of Liberian territory in the upper 
basins of the Saint Paul and Saint John Rivers, as will be 
tantamount to the acquisition of the best and most valuable 
of Liberian hinterlands. 

The treaty of 1907 has two provisions effecting the divi- 
sion of tribes in the delimitation of the Franco-Liberian 
line. One of them provided that no tribe or section of tribe 



266 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

shall be divided. Some tribes have no subdivisions ; in that 
case they were, unless otherwise stipulated, to fall in toto 
to France or Liberia; but tribes having sections or subdivi- 
sions were to be divided in accord with the subdivisions. 

For example there are the Gorgie section, the Teckya 
section, and the Mamba section of the Gola tribe. In divid- 
ing a tribe like this it was understood by Liberia that the 
tribe was to be divided in such a manner as to keep all of 
any one section together; all the Gorgies, all the Mambas, 
and all the Teckyas, so as not to interfere with ethnological 
unities in the interest of civil administration. To the Liberian 
few things seemed clearer and were better understood. 

Now the other provision stipulates that the towns Sounde- 
dou, N 'Zappa, Kioama, and Banjedou shall be given to 
France. This provision modifies the other one by speci- 
fically dividing sections which were prohibited, but it 
definitely points out how this division of section shall be 
done by giving certain and named towns to France. Now 
France seeks more Liberian territory by construction, and 
by claiming the territory of all the tribes to which these 
towns belong, and, in spite of the fact that some of these 
tribes have sections and subdivisions. 

And thus it seems evident that neither France nor Great 
Britain will ever be satisfied with anything less than the 
total absorption of Liberian territories, and the complete 
obliteration of the Liberian republic. 

Development of the Liberian Situation 

And here, just in the midst of this endless and unceasing 
struggle for Liberian lands between two most active and 
aggressive powers, the Liberian situation is multiplied in 
complexity by the activity of two other independent and 
powerful forces, and by the combined psychological action 
of all of them upon the Liberian public mind. 

The importance of the Liberian Situation was greatly 
heightened by what gradually impressed the Liberian people 
as a deeply laid political plan, of quietly getting control of 
the military and other departments of the Liberian govern- 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBEBIAN SITUATION 267 

ment in the name of Reform, which plan had for its object 
the ultimate otherthrow of Liberian sovereignty, and the 
limitation of the destiny of the Liberian republic to a British 
colony. 

It developed very much in this way. Realizing that 
Liberia was in a rapid process of territorial extinction, 
Liberian statesmanship was impressed that the future integ- 
rity of Liberian territory and independence might be pre- 
served by developing Liberian resources through the finan- 
cial assistance of some strong foreign power, and by the 
cultivation of closer and more intimate relations with her 
territorial neighbors. 

At this point it is necessary to refer to the influence of the 
British Loan of 1871. 

(1) Fraud of British Loan of 1871 

At the rate of 7 per cent, in 1871, Liberia authorized the 
negotiation of a British loan of $500,000. Of this amount 
not less than $100,000 were to pay off the Liberian public 
debt; not less than $100,000 were to be deposited in Liberia 
as the basis for the issuance of a limited currency; and the 
balance was to be left in a banking institution subject to 
the order of the Liberian legislature. 

Contrary to the terms of the loan fixed by the Liberian 
legislature, the British negotiators retained $150,000 for 
their services and took out in advance from the remaining 
$350,000 the interest for three years, amounting to some- 
thing like $105,000. Honorable E. F. Roye, president of 
Liberia, authorized Mr. Chinery, a British subject and 
Liberian charge 1 d'affaires and consul general at London, 
to supply the secretary of the Liberian treasury with goods 
and merchandise not to exceed $50,000. Other sums were 
squandered and misappropriated to such an extent both 
in England and in Liberia, that the Liberian republic re- 
ceived with difficulty the benefit of only about $135,000 of 
the 1871 loan. In fact, so much fraud attended the nego- 
tiation of this 1871 loan that the Liberian people repudiated 
it for a time, and deposed President Roye and prosecuted 



268 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

some of his agents for their known connection with this 
notorious fraud, and because the president sought to quash 
the matter by the extension of his presidential term by proc- 
lamation. 

In 1899, however, the Liberian government resumed its 
responsibility for a little less than $400,000 of the loan of 
1871, agreed to pay a progressive interest of from 3 to 5 
per cent, and provided a sinking fund of 1 per cent of cer- 
tain bond sales, etc., for its ultimate settlement. It made 
the loan a first charge upon Liberian customs revenue and 
secured the interest with one-half of the export duty on 
rubber. And up to the present time Liberia has met all 
her obligations of 1899. 

(2) Terms of British Loan of 1906 

Because of repeated expressions of friendship, on the 
part of Great Britain and the financial relations subsisting 
between Liberia and British subjects, growing out of the 
1871 loan, British influence had a decided advantage over 
other rival influences in the negotiation of another foreign 
loan which was felt to be necessary in carrying out the new 
internal problems, forced upon Liberia by Great Britain 
and France. 

So the British loan of 1906 was accepted by Liberia with 
a reluctance and hesitancy that subsequent developments 
have more than justified. Liberia secured from Messrs. 
Erlanger and Company, London brokers, through the Liberian 
Development Company, Chartered and Limited, another 
British company, a loan of $500,000 under an agreement, 
which in a general way, among other things, provided that 
the loan was to be applied in the following manner: 

(a) $25,000 for any pressing Liberian obligation. 

(b) $125,000 for paying domestic debts. 

(c) $35,000 to be loaned to the Liberian Development Com- 
pany. 

(d) The balance to be devoted to the development of banking 
and road schemes by the Liberian Development Company in 
Liberia. 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 269 

As security for this loan British officials, as chief and assis- 
tant inspectors of customs, were to have charge of the 
Liberian customs revenue, and the chief inspector was to 
act as financial advisor to the republic. In semi-annual 
payments $30,000 were to be paid annually as interest by 
the Liberian government until all of the loan was repaid. 
Ten per cent of any excess of $250,000 in Liberian customs 
revenue was to be received by the Liberian Development 
Company. And the Liberian Development Company was 
charged with the responsibility of returning the loan to 
Messrs. Erlanger and Company by the payment of 50 per 
cent of the net profits derived from the exercise of the powers 
and privileges of the charter of the former company, together 
with profits from the banking and road schemes to be under- 
taken in Liberia. 

The loan was actually applied as follows: 

(a) To extinguish domestic debts £ 30,000 .0.0. 

(b) Loaned to Liberian Development 

Company, Limited 7,000 . 0.0. 

(c) In carrying out road scheme in 1906 

agreement 32,776.11.3. 

(d) Obtained by Liberia on ratification 

of Tripartite Agreement, 1908 30,223 . 8.9. 

Total £100,000. 0.0. 

(3) Reasons for Tripartite Agreement, 1908 

Much friction attended the administration of the Liberian 
customs by British officials, whose salaries were paid by 
the Liberian government. The Liberian Development Com- 
pany completed about fifteen miles of an automobile road 
in the Careysburg district, had purchased one small steam 
launch for the Saint Paul River, and two automobiles which 
the Company was never able to operate successfully, when 
the company suddenly represented that all the funds for 
building roads were exhausted, after having spent on an 
ordinary dirt road something like $163,882.70. The Liberian 
people were so dissatisfied with the expenditure of such a 
large sum for such meager results that Liberian confidence 



270 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

was greatly impaired in the ability of the Liberian Develop- 
ment Company to expend wisely the balance of the £70,000 
which had been entrusted without security to the manage- 
ment of the company. 

The Liberian government modified the agreement of 
1906 by what is known as the Tripartite Agreement of 1908. 
By this agreement Liberia assumed direct responsibility to 
Messrs. Erlanger and Company for the loan of 1906, and 
aside from obtaining some advantages in the new agreement 
secured from the Liberian Development Company the 
residue of the loan, amounting to £30,223.8.9, and prac- 
tically dispensed with the future services of this company 
in the solution of the new Liberian problems, 

(4) Reforms Demanded by Great Britain 

While the Liberian government was having its sad and 
unfortunate experience with the Liberian Development 
Company, the British government demanded the reorgani- 
zation of Liberian finances, the reform of the Liberian judi- 
ciary, and the establishment of a Liberian frontier force 
under British officers, for the policing of the Anglo- and 
Franco-Liberian frontiers; and coupled with these demands 
the statement on the one hand, that if Liberia would adopt 
these reforms, perhaps, Great Britain might give up Kaure- 
Lahun, and on the other hand, that if Liberia did not carry 
out these reforms Great Britain would not guarantee the 
future independence of the Liberian republic. 

As all these reforms are necessary, the Liberian govern- 
ment did not hesitate to enter upon their immediate prose- 
cution. In the financial, judicial, and military depart- 
ments of the Liberian government the reform work was 
making considerable progress under British direction, when 
remarkable disclosures concerning the intentions and con- 
duct of resident British officials brought British direction 
and influence to a tragic and sudden close. 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 271 

(5) The Crisis 

British officials in charge of the Liberian customs de- 
manded more subinspectors and three more were added to 
the customs staff. The British influence was insisting that 
Mr. Inspector Lamont should not only be financial advisor 
but that he should have the veto power over the expendi- 
tures of the Liberian government with a seat in the Liberian 
cabinet. 

Under the command of Major Cadell, a British officer, 
the construction of the Monrovia barracks and the organiza- 
tion of a Liberian frontier force were hopefully begun in 
the midst of the confusion created by the protests of the 
Germans along the Liberian coast on the one hand, and by 
the indignant attitude of France, who demanded equal 
representation with Great Britain in the official staff of the 
Liberian frontier force on the other, and who regarded this 
Liberian frontier force as little other than a "British army 
of occupation." 

Liberia was informed that if she consented to the French 
demands Great Britain would join with France in the dis- 
rupture and division of the republic. 

Assisted by two other British officers with the rank of 
captain, Major McKay Cadell enlisted, contrary to Liberian 
law, not less than a third of the Liberian frontier force from 
British subjects of Sierra Leone. At first he denied it, and 
refused to dismiss them upon the request of the Liberian 
government, and only admitted it when further denial was 
useless. 

The caps, suits and other supplies of the Liberian frontier 
force were stamped with the crown and other emblems of 
His Britannic Majesty's service, and various conflicting 
explanations were offered to the people. 

Major Cadell persuaded the Monrovia city government 
to permit him to undertake without compensation the 
command of the city police force, as chief of police. He not 
only supplanted the loyal Kru police force with Mendi 
soldiers from the barracks, but sought to be street com- 
missioner, tax collector, treasurer of the city, and so many 



272 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

other functions of government, that the people were com- 
pelled to dispense with his free services. He declined to 
resign and presented a large bill as the condition upon which 
he would deliver up the city property entrusted to him. 

Major Cadell reached the point where he refused to be 
supervised by the Liberian government and resented sug- 
gestions on the part of the President to such an extent that 
the British consul general required the major's letters to 
the president to be first submitted to the British consulate 
general. 

The disposition and conduct of Major Cadell at the bar- 
racks became such a menace in the estimation of the Liberian 
public that the general government as well decided to dis- 
pense with the services of this officer as the commander of 
the Liberian frontier force at the Monrovia barracks. 
This time he not only refused to resign, but he made out 
and presented a large unitemized bill to the Liberian govern- 
ment, and wrote a letter to President Barclay, sending a 
copy to the senate, in which he threatened violence to the 
Liberian executive unless his demands were met in twenty- 
four hours. 

Major Cadell had thrown up rock breast-works six feet 
deep with port holes on the approaches leading from Mon- 
rovia, and endeavored to regain possession of some guns 
which he had sent to a shipping company upon the order 
of the British consul general. 

On February 5, 1909, the British consul general, Captain 
Braitwaite Wallis, informed the British government that 
there was a mutiny in the Monrovia barracks, contrary to 
the facts, eight days before Commander Cadell disclosed 
this remarkable information to the Liberian president; and 
had had the Mutiny, a British warship, at Monrovia in 
anticipation of a conflict, to the consummation of which 
every endeavor had been made, on February 13th, the day 
upon which Major Cadell startled the Liberian people with 
his threat of violence. 

At once Monrovia was ordered under arms and the 
greatest unrest prevailed throughout the city. The Mutiny 
changed its position in the harbor to within easy view of the 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBBRIAN SITUATION 273 

barracks and the British consulate general, and two com- 
panies of the Liberian first regiment were stationed on the 
beach. Under the strain and stress of the hour the Liberian 
people met the situation with courage, patriotism, and dis- 
cretion. And an armed conflict, which British officials 
had done so much to provoke, and the unnecessary slaughter 
of men were only avoided by the compliance of the British 
consul general with the Liberian request that the British 
subjects be withdrawn from the Liberian barracks, in order 
that the Liberain government might suppress any insur- 
rectionary movement existing there. And with the with- 
drawal of Major Cadell the reported mutiny was at an end, 
and the Liberian government assumed in peace the command 
of its barracks. During the brief but eventful period in 
which Major Cadell had charge of the Monrovia barracks 
he expended on behalf of the Liberian government the sum 
of more than $80,000, much of which was unaccounted for 
and unauthorized. 

Dynamic Factors in the Situation 

France, gradually but rapidly absorbing Liberian terri- 
tory from the north and east and jealous of all rivals in 
Liberian affairs; Germany, establishing great trade and 
commercial centers along the Liberian coast and exerting 
its diplomatic and financial influence in behalf ofLiberian 
independence and sending more merchant ships to Liberian 
waters than any other European power; Great Britain, 
extending at every convenient opportunity the territory of 
Sierra Leone at the expense of Liberia on the west and 
desirous of exercising the predominant influence in the Liber- 
ian republic; and the United States, the great determinative 
force, having established Liberia and using American good 
offices in her behalf since the foundation of the Liberian 
colony, and contributing more than $100,000 annually to 
the support and maintenance of the educational and religious 
institutions of this little republic; these appear to me to 
constitute the great potential forces operating upon the 
Liberian people; but, Great Britain and France are the 
dynamic factors in the Liberian situation. 



274 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

The action and reaction of the dynamic factors one upon 
the other, and the complex action of the two upon Liberian 
public life and social institutions, in so far as they have been 
put to unnecessary expense; in so far as the Liberian people 
have been wrongfully deprived of their territories; have been 
so distracted in mind and so depressed in spirit; have been 
kept so constantly in a keen struggle for self-preservation; 
that they have not been able to give the required attention 
to the several problems of their internal government, the 
development of their natural resources, and the assimila- 
tion of their large aboriginal population, to my mind in a 
general way are the main features of the Librarian situation. 

Liberian Wealth of Natural Resources 

It is true that Liberia is characterized by no striking geo- 
graphical boundaries, yet within its limits is comprehended 
the greatest expression of the great West African forest belt. 
Separated from the forest of Old Calabar on the east by 
hundreds of miles of deforested regions of the Gold Coast 
and Dahome, and cut off on the west from the forested 
regions of Portuguese and French Guinea by the highlands 
of Futa Jalon, Liberia has a rich and varied flora and fauna, 
in some respects peculiar to itself, with some forms to be 
found in no other section of our world. 

Besides the finest wood in the greasy peach, cherry, white 
gum, ebony, black gum, mahogany, and others the Liberian 
forest is rich with more than thirty varieties of rubber-pro- 
ducing plants, vines, and trees. 

For agricultural purposes in the tropics it would be diffi- 
cult to find lands more fertile and more luxuriant in their 
production than the basins of the Liberian rivers between 
the coast and the uplands of the Mandingan plateau. 

Rich in the beautiful palms which produce the cocoanut, 
palm kernels, and palm oil, it is said that Liberia produces 
a coffee, indigenous to the soil, which in size, strength, and 
aromatic flavor is one of the most delightful and delicious 
of the superior coffees sent out from the coffee-producing 
countries. 



DYNAMIC FACTORS IN THE LIBERIAN SITUATION 275 

For some time it has been believed that gold existed in 
Liberian hills and streams, and natives had been seen bring- 
ing gold dust to the Liberian coast. Recently mining experts 
have discovered gold, not only in two counties, but one 
mining engineer informed me that he has secured more 
than 100 diamonds within 25 miles of Monrovia, and 
exhibited in the rough some diamonds at the time. 

Opportunity for American Commercial Expansion 

For the possession of this great natural wealth of Liberia, 
European powers, for more than a quarter of a century, have 
been engaged in the most vigorous and aggressive rivalry. 

Possessing untold wealth of mine and field and forest, 
occupying a commanding position at the head of the Gulf 
of Guinea, with ethnological relations through the Liberian 
Vais and Mandingos with the great Mande family extend- 
ing into the Niger basin, Liberia is a natural gateway for 
American commercial expansion to the millions of those 
fine and robust races which inhabit the African black belt 
from the Senegal to the Red Sea. What an opportunity 
for the development of western commerce and the triumph 
of western civilization! 

But aside from the development of Liberia's great natural 
resources, there is in the Liberian situation an opportunity 
for leadership in the engaging and enduring work of state 
building through our Negro Americans, and an opportunity 
for commercial expansion generally, that are worthy and 
entitled to the most serious consideration on the part of 
the American people. 

And upon the highest possible grounds we have great 
historical and future interests in Liberia. Established by 
our countrymen as an expression of American trials and 
tribulations, the preservation of Liberia is an American 
opportunity. Following in the footsteps of the Galilean 
the American people have become the greatest by helping 
weaker peoples. 

We fought and shed our blood that Cuba might be free, 
and surprised the world by starting her out upon the road 



276 GEORGE W. ELLIS 

that leads to the glory of an independent and national 
destiny. We are helping the republic of Santo Domingo to 
keep her head financially above the waves; we are lifting 
the people of Porto Rico and the Philippines to the high 
and lofty plane of individual and collective self-govern- 
ment; and standing between China and her division by the 
powers, we have inspired the island empire of Japan to take 
her place among the first nations of the earth. 

In the performance of a great national service the Ameri- 
can people have never missed an opportunity. In the dis- 
charge of a great national duty and obligation the American 
people have never failed or faltered. Liberia is threatened 
to be blotted from the map. In the most anxious expecta- 
tion we wonder if the United States will fail or falter now. 

As the only salvation against the invasion of their homes, 
the convulsion of their cities, and the dismemberment of 
their territories, bought and given to them by American 
philanthropists as a partial atonement for the wrongs which 
America and Europe for so many centuries had committed 
against Africans and their native land, the people of Liberia 
have appealed to the people of the United States. The world 
listens for an answer. What shall the answer be?